For those of you familiar with the Sal Wise fraud story, here are some good news. Now, don't get your hopes up. Sal, as of this writing, hasn't refunded a dime to his victims, and has shown no such intent beyond vague promises. And I have not even verified an intent to defraud in the following story, but do concur with the writer that it does appear to be an attempted scam. What I am reporting here is the power of the Slashdot smartmob in getting most of Andrew Kyle's $2300 refunded. Here's the original post:
"OK, this may seem pretty lame to you guys but this has become a serious problem for my mother. My mom bid for a new Apple G4 17 laptop, the high end model that retails for $2999.95 on eBay and she won. The item number was 5100427911 and I have to admit that it did look legit. The woman said she was located in the UK and would not take Paypal. When my mother asked her why this was, she mentioned something about getting burned twice and the site Paypalsucks.com. The woman had 0 feedback and this was my moms first big purchase and she thought she did everything perfect so she send the $2300 through Western Union and covers all the fees. Now, over a month later, no notebook, no contact from seller nothing. When my mother told me about this I was furious and I got her contact information through eBay which ended up all being fake. I have run into a complete dead end here and when I try to track the payment though Western Union it says that it has not been picked up. I called a support person for Western Union and they only told me that the only person who can cancel the payment is the seller or person receiving the Money Order.

"I have no one else to ask and I don't know what else to do so I really would like it if you could help me out and either figure out a way to get the money back through Western Union, get the sellers correct information, or some quick way to recoup $2300! This was going to be my mothers first computer and I thought an Apple would be great for her because of the ease of use. Here is all the information that I could think of that you would need to know to help me:

"From eBay:
Seller's Name/Alias(?): Lora Marconi ; Catherine Gates
City: Atlantic Beach
State: North Carolina
Phone: (252)-402-8219
Email: lora_m_2004@yahoo.com

"Western Union Info:
Western Union Money Transfer Control Number: 9245118704
Address My mother sent the money to: 580 Barkling Road, E139ju, London, U.K.

"If you guys can help me out in any way, it would be greatly appreciated. Please let me know if there is any more information that I can provide you with to help you out? Thanks ahead of time."

"This is a letter that I wrote to a magazine that I thought could help me out, turns out they dont make personal replies so unless they felt it was good enough to print, I wont ever get a response. That is when I stumbled upon this site. I feel bad for justin and the other people who were scammed, but I have a problem of my own now and I would like to know what the necessary actions are? Could some one let me know what to try, how to get some information on this person and get the $2300 back.

"Any help is appreciated."

It all boils down to the one anonymous stranger from London, dave420, who answered and let Andrew know that: that: "It's `Barking Road', and in the east-end of London (not one of the nicest parts)", and offered to give the London police a call. Andrew and Dave took their conversation to email, and 2 days later, Andrew reported a victory: "I would be happy to say that I got my money back with the help of Dave420. He's a great guy! Thanks to everyone who posted and helped me out!!!"

I emailed Andrew asking for clarification; his wording "would be happy" made the post ambiguous as to the outcome, despite the ecstatic appearance of the words overall. I got the whole story later:

"Over a month went by and we hadn't heard anything and I sent an email a week after I sent the payment and told the lady her money should be there. She had very bad broken English (I think she was trying too hard at making it look bad) and said 'I no receive payment Western Union yet'. I waited another week and sent another email which didn't get a reply so I sent several more and never got any replies. I looked into the eBay fraud department and was very disappointed that they only cover $175, so I still tried more emails not hinting at me filing a fraud report or anything, just trying to get a valid phone number or some useful piece of information but again no reply. I got her contact information from eBay and everything was fake, the phone number didn't exist, the address was fake, and there was no one living in the city shes stated by the name that was registered. After that, I immediately contacted Western Union, it took me over 2 days of going through automated menus to finally get a number that led to a live support member. When I talked to them they said there was no way I would get my money back and I should just give up. That is when I tried writing emails to several of the hacking magazines and social engineering type places like 2600 Blacklisted! 411, etc. I never got replies from any of them and that's when I stumbled on your article in www.Slashdot.org.

"At first when I read the little section, I went back to my search result and was looking for other things that might help me when something just clicked and I went back. I found your forums after reading through your ordeal and posted a message. That's when Dave got involved. He was very eager to help me out since he lived in London where the money was sent to. He told me that the address I sent to was in the bad part of town and not the greatest neighborhood. He then called WU there in London and started asking them what to do in the situation. He emailed me saying that I should go to the place I sent the money and ask for a refund there, which I did. I walked in and acted like I knew exactly what I was doing and answered every question without hesitation. They quickly got on the phone and called London and within 30 minutes I walked out of the store with $500 in cash and $1675.95 in checks. That was the best feeling in the world! When I was searching google, that was pretty much my last hope at trying to find some way to get the money back or at least not loose all of it and then I stumbled on your forum, it had to be fate. All the time, dave said he would contact authorities over there, talk to fraud departments, and he even called to ask about the status of the money since I kept getting goofy responses that said I had not even sent the money yet. I deeply appreciate his desire to help a fellow man out, just a great guy. All the information about the transaction is in my post and you can add/take out any of this information that you want. Also use any information that I provided that you want and if you need anything else, feel free to ask!"

Yes, you could argue that Andrew could have done this from the beginning, and probably would have even without Dave's help. I don't deny the possibility. I am just saying that the Slashdot community is a powerful force, that most geeks have innate honor and integrity, and that when this medium brings people together, good things can happen. So give yourselves a pat on the back.

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last updated 2013-01-10 20:26:19. served from tektonic.jcomeau.com